PU-WSU Academic Engagement Programme

Day Two, of the Academic Engagement under the Colombo Mobility Programme organized by Centre for Human Rights and Duties, Panjab University comprised of four academic sessions, where the panelists shared their pragmatic work experiences on field, with challenges and success stories.

PU-WSU Academic Engagement Programme

Chandigarh November 18, 2023: Day Two, of the Academic Engagement under the Colombo Mobility Programme organized by Centre for Human Rights and Duties, Panjab University comprised of four academic sessions, where the panelists shared their pragmatic work experiences on field, with challenges and success stories.

Prof. Sushil K Kansal, Dean International Students who was chairing the session commenced the panel discussion on the topic ‘Challenges and Opportunities in Women’s Well Being in India’ by introducing the panelists who are the pioneer of Gender, Research and Advocacy. Prof. Surinder Shukla narrated her personal experiences where she travelled all over the world and experienced gender gaps that needs to be closed globally. She stated gender gaps are everywhere and it is difficult to be a woman and simultaneously to get succeeded in many aspects. She ended her discussion on the quote given by Mahatma Gandhi ‘if you teach a woman, you teach whole family.’

Prof. Manvinder Kaur, Chairperson, Centre cum Department for Women’s Studies, and Development, mentioned that women are not born, women are made. Especially in India she is made into a particular kind of woman whether she is a Dalit woman, Unmarried, Specially Abled, Dark skinned woman etc. She expressed that violence is just not Sexual Harassment or Domestic Violence. There are many violences an Indian woman experiences such as a woman in not even allowed to be cremated in her marital clothes. The clothes must be provided by her native family. She mentioned important rights for example:- Right to live with dignity, right to be recognise as human being, right to have healthy life; which is based on three aspects access, availability, and awareness, right to clean environment and Right to Peace. Prof. Rajesh Gill, Former Director Research and Development Cell, PU, expressed that as a sociologist gender gap cannot be quantify every time. India has provided various constitutional rights under its constitution. It has provided Right to equality, right to non- discrimination, right to personal Liberty which also include reproductive rights of women. India has also enacted important laws that has provided right to inheritance, rights against domestic violence and right against sexual harassment to women. Numerous amendments have been made to rape laws in India. But still the biggest challenge is the effective implementation of these laws. There are many challenges which India must tackle.

Academic Session II:  the panel discussion was on the topic ‘Women’s Health and Well- Being’ was chaired by Prof. Namita Gupta, Centre for Human Rights and Duties. Dr. Manjushri Sharma, from UIAMS, given her insights on ‘Health’ and ‘Well- Being’. Whereas ‘Health’ is the goal, ‘Well- Being’ is the process to achieve that goal. Women are not taught to take care of their well- being. She narrated that women’s health is a concern because there are limited voices. She introduced the audience with the common issues related to women’s health such as uterus ailment issues, sexual violences, breast cancer etc. There is socio- economic, cultural, environment and proximate factors that are affecting women’s health and well- being. Self- love is required for women to break the barriers to reach to their ultimate well being.

Dr. Abhijit Dhillon, Policy and Research Analyst, Women in Global Health (WGH), introduced the audience with WGH which was founded in 2015, is a global movement demanding gender equality and leadership. She expressed her experience as lead researcher and lead author of report ‘the state of women and leadership in global health’ and showed her concerns over the issue that though healthcare is delivered by women but led by men. She expressed that we need women in power because women in power can speak the issues concerning to women in healthcare. Most of the policies at global level are gender blind so we need women in power.

Opinder Sekhon, writer and sportswoman narrated her story that how she fought brain tumour and overcome its affect with help of sports. She said health is more important than anything else and sports are important to lead a healthy life. Mr. Fauja Singh and Mrs. Maan Kaur has been her inspiration that inspired her to be resilience to bounce back in life despite of the hardships she has faced.

Dhanajay Chauhan, alumni of CHRD and a transwoman, shared her experience on being a transwoman. She said we are there included in laws but we need acceptance in heart by society. she shared her struggle to get separate toilet for third gender in Panjab University. She shared number of issues faced by transgender person such as sexual violence, sensitization of doctors conducting gender correction surgery.

Dr. Namita Gupta, in her closing remarks raised all the questions has been discussed in the panel discussion such as, whether self- love is considered selfish? Why women are always considered care giver but are missing at policy making front? How much a woman care about our physical and mental well- being? And can’t be all human being first and our gender comes later?

Academic Session III: the panel discussion was on ‘Women’s Economic Empowerment Ecosystem in India.’  The panelist Dr. Ameer Sultana, Dept, cum Centre for Women's Studies and Development, was chairing the session. She expressed that women are shifting from agriculture sector to other sectors though these sectors are informal. As a result,they are underemployed, they are low paid, under the threat to be kicked out from job, left without any health benefits. Anas Shah Khan, Founder of Coventurers, introduced about his organization that help small or informal organizations to start their business. There are their major areas they work on such as boosting the sale, helps organization to structure SOPs and integrate with investigation. Dr.Rajesh Kumar, Associate Professor from Centre cum Department for Women’s Studies and Development has spoken about the economic empowerment of women and how they have to face challenges at every stage of life. They suffer more than men in armed conflicts as civilians since brunt of violence faced. He said we need inclusiveness, holistic model of development, sensitivity, and more research in this area to uplift the economic empowerment of women.

Academic Session IV: Dr. Upneet Kaur Mangat was chairing the session on the theme ‘Women Entrepreneurship and Financial Literacy- Role of Industry and NGOs’. Renu Mehra and Avinisha a, Mother- Daughter Duo shared their journey of setting up of apparel industry.They expressed that the aspect of women empowerment is taken care of by their business. Initially they had only 272 women employees but at present there are 1400 women employees working for their business. Their vision is to become a global leader. They are distributor to 11 international brands. They encouraged other women to have enough confidence in themselves to start their own ventures. Sustainability aspect is also followed by their business. Jatinder Mann, from ‘Chotti Si Asha’, briefly introduced about the organization. He expressed that Chotti Si Asha is working with rural migrant population from western UP and Bihar, who are settled in Chandigarh. Who are illiterate and not much skilled. It has been 18 years since they have started their organization. Their idea was not specifically to work with women. They started with providing stitching skills to street boys. Later, when boys left women joined. These women who come from a set of socio-cultural background which make it challenging and empowering for them to come out from their home to start something like this. The agenda of the organization is not to teach them new skill but to enhance which they already know and bring their skill to limelight. Babit Batra is Coordinator, skills and livelihood, SEWA Punjab. She introduced about the SEWA. SEWA is self-employed women group, started 15 years ago in Gujrat by Ela Bhatt, led by women union workers in informal sector. SEWA is working with a huge chunk of marginalized section of society to organize them and inculcate capacity building, decision making power and leadership in them. Renu Narchal, Senior Lecturer from Western Sydney University, Australia ended today’s session with the note that ‘a women can do anything a man can do.’ She asked young ladies present in the room to believe in themselves.